Mass shootings and famine, the homeless and war. Natural disasters you cannot ignore. Sexual assault and global warming… These are a few of my least favorite things.
Such topics can easily be crammed into a ten-minute news segment, let alone a 24-hour streaming news channel.
Growing up, the news channel was always on our TV. Maybe my parents didn’t realize we had other channels. Or maybe my parents wanted to raise well-informed and knowledgeable children.
The flip side of this was the constant flood of overstimulation. The news was on before school; it was on after dinner; it was never not on.
I appreciate my parents’ thirst for knowledge and current world happenings. As an adult, current events have become a large part of our everyday dialogue and family dinners. We’re always sharing articles and starting conversations with, “Did you hear about…?”
But the steady income of disturbing images and footage deeply rattles me. Feeling sick to my stomach, I have to excuse myself from the room.
A few years ago I was seeing an amazing therapist.
She asked me, “What are you so worried about?”
“Everything,” I replied.
She told me to turn off the news. It was really a metaphor for suspending the overstimulation before I shut down indefinitely.
I left the appointment to go pick up something at my parents’ house and what was on the TV as I walked in? You guessed it. I cracked a smile and left.
I try to stay heavily involved in any given volunteer or charitable opportunities. I can’t help the situations I see on TV, so it’s the least I can do.
But I always want to do more. Sometimes the desire to help is so forceful it affects me viscerally.
I have to give myself a break. I do what I can, when I can, and that should be enough.
Allowing myself to indulge in innocuous guilty pleasures from time to time helps silence the world around me.
A good, solid Netflix binge is warranted here. Reality TV marathons, going to concerts, listening to my favorite podcast and even visiting Disneyland works. I’ve learned to stop feeling guilty about it.
I’ll shut down my social media occasionally and read outside articles. It allows me to decipher what I think and how I feel about certain topics without the perpetual feed of other people’s opinions. I call it turning down the noise.
Creating my own little fantasy microcosm is a necessity for sanity. I’m so in tune with the world, I grant myself the opportunity to check out once in a while.
My advice to you is to give yourself permission to do the same. Even for a few hours, change the channel, deactivate your social media and tune into yourself. Because sometimes, no news is good news.
How about you – does the news overstimulate you? What are your go-to guilty pleasures?